Although Joe Biden leads in the polls, he is opposed by many of the progressive opinion-makers who exercise disproportionate influence in the press, social media, think tanks, and academia. They don’t tend to attack his electability, and only rarely discuss what he is likely to do in office in comparison to Democratic rivals. Instead, they’re obsessed with how he presents himself and his ideas, which they characterize as “problematic.”
Early on, they cited the way he hugged and kissed strangers. While not predatory, he can be awkwardly handsy and intimate, many major media outlets reported.
Last month, Biden said that while he “didn’t agree on much of anything” with two segregationist Democrats who were in the Senate when he joined it, “at least there was some civility. We got things done.” The backlash was immediate. Talk of civil political compromise with racists, even on matters other than race, isn’t the sort of thing a respectable Democrat says in 2019.
Senator Cory Booker, one of his rivals for the nomination, said, “Frankly, I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans.”
Another rival, Senator Kamala Harris, who sought to gain ground against the former vice president when the Democrats debated last month in Miami, used the remarks to launch a broader attack:
It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States Senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me.
Booker found that powerful.